Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Life thus far

Summer is almost over. Well, for all intents and purposes in the Turner household, it IS over, and HAS BEEN over for weeks now - we started school on August 4.


Totally, completely ridiculous.

I don't know if it's getting older, or our recent move, but I've become such a homebody lately. Seriously. Right now, if I could have a couple of days where I didn't have to leave the house at all, that would be just about the best thing ever.

Yeah, I know. Not gonna happen.

I have been busy this summer, so here's a slight recap of the shenanigans and goings-on around here.


* Did I mention we moved? Because I can't remember if I ever did, and it's not even 6 a.m. yet and I don't feel like going back through my blog to check. We bought a house from my aunt that's next door to my parents (Gramma next door? Can I get a "WHAT WHAT!"). It's really a blessing that we did when we did, because two weeks after we moved my dad had emergency quintuple (that's FIVE to you non-math folks) bypass surgery and it's been great to be right next door during his recovery.

* This house has inspired me to go a completely different direction in my decorating. It's laid out differently than my last home,and we're in the woods (quite literally) so it's gaining more of a cottage vibe. I've become OBSESSED with home decor blogs and Pinterest, and probably need a second Google Reader account just to keep up.


The great thing about this style is, it can be VERY inexpensive. Many of the things I've gotten have been from Goodwill, or repainting/altering things I already had. It looks like things were gathered instead of just gone out and shopped. And that's a good thing, for my budget and my decorating!



* I started a Life Group (what we call our small groups) at church called Deal Seeking Divas! We have a Facebook group where we share deals back and forth, and I've set up a coupon exchange folder in my office at church. In the coming months, we're going to be using our frugality to help those who are in need, and I can't wait!

* I joined another Life Group, a book club for readers of inspirational fiction. My friend (and a FABULOUS writer) Jesse is heading it up, and I have a feeling it's going to be great! I've already read some thought-provoking stuff. Our discussions should be very interesting!

Ahh, summer. I'm going to miss you, 100 degrees and all. Promise you won't be gone long?

So, that's what's up with me. What's been up with y'all?

Wednesday, June 22, 2011


As many times as I've found myself stranded on the side of the road, I really should have a tag just for those posts.

Or maybe, a whole blog dedicated to them. Something along the lines of “Unexpected pit stops on the highway of life.”

Yesterday morning, I was driving to work with Anna Marie in tow, and as I got to the last exit in our county my car started making a horrible, very bad, no good noise.

Thankfully, I had time to get off at that exit, because there was about eight miles of open highway (and a long bridge with no shoulder) between me and the next acceptable stop.

Even Anna Marie could tell something was wrong, as I got off the exit ramp and turned to go to the gas station on the other side of the highway.

Thankfully, I was able to make it to the station. I haven't always been so fortunate.

I've been stuck in many, many places in my life. On the sides of roads, at rest areas, and once, when I was engaged, Jason and I spent several hours at a Walmart in Alabama waiting on my parents.

Not the most fun I've ever had, let me assure you.

Yesterday was a sale day at the auction where Jason runs the cafeteria, and I knew he couldn't leave the kitchen. I called my dad, who said he was already almost to the auction – half an hour away. He said he'd drop my mom off and come down to see about us.

Judging by prior experience, I was just sure it was the transmission. It's not like it would be the first time I'd had a transmission go out on me while driving down the interstate (or while entering a shopping center parking lot, for that matter.) I called Jason to apprise him of the situation, trying to stay brave and positive (and not feeling like I was doing a particularly good job at either.)

Thankfully, I was able to go inside the gas station and use the “facilities” (because I've had to go in the great outdoors on previous “unscheduled” stops), get Anna Marie the snack she was asking for (because I had the funds to do so) and let the cashier know why my car might be parked outside for a little while longer than most customers.

I sent a text to our Senior Associate Pastor to let him know I'd be a wee bit late. He called me back to ask if he needed to come see about us, and thankfully I was able to tell him we were fine.

Thankfully, the sun was shining, and Anna Marie was occupied with her Cheeze-its and Nintendo DS, and we passed the time until my dad arrived. I have had to come up with ways to entertain her myself on these “adventures,” so I was most appreciative of her handheld video games.

Jason informed me that our new auto insurance included roadside assistance, so I called to have a wrecker sent to tow the car back home.

Thankfully, when my dad arrived, he diagnosed the problem as “busted exhaust pipe” and not “transmission,” which is a whole dilly of a lot easier and cheaper to fix. He did advise me not to drive the car until it was fixed, so as not to asphyxiate myself or my passengers.

The nice lady at the insurance company called back to say a wrecker would be two hours in coming. “You don't have to be with the vehicle, you can just leave the keys inside,” she said.

“Lady, this station isn't known as the 'Stop and Rob' around here for nothing,” I thought. But what I actually said was, “Well, I live in the woods, and my house is hard to find. My dad says we can drive it home since it's only about 10 miles, so that's what we're going to do. But thanks anyway!”

We removed our valuables, locked the car, prayed over it, and headed to the rest of our day.

After work, Jason came by to pick me up and we met my parents for dinner. (Thankfully, my mom was well stocked with buy one, get one free coupons!) She, Anna Marie, and I stopped for Baskin Robbins kiddie cones, while my dad and Jason headed to pick up my car.

He called me a little while later, laughing.

“I don't know what you're complaining about. People pay a lot of money to have their cars sound like this.”

Haha, dear. Very funny. For one, I don't want my car to sound like I have a glass-pack muffler. For another, yeah, asphyxiation. THAT.

Thankfully, I do have another vehicle to drive while we get this all sorted out, which has not always been the case.

As I travel this highway of life, I know there will be unexpected stops along the way. Not only do I have a responsibility before God to keep a right attitude, I also have a little passenger along for the ride who is watching everything I do, every reaction I have, and those lessons will color how she reacts when her own life runs into the inevitable speed bump or two.

Thankfully, my car was safe, we were safe, and I was able to have some hope before I ever got into the van with my dad.

Thanking God daily for every little thankfully He helps us find in the midst of our trials...

Friday, June 17, 2011


Ok, so I totally had this whole, long post typed yesterday about how that I'm a living double-standard.

And then, a massive storm hit, and I hadn't saved (I was typing in Word, mistake #1) and I lost it.


See, I ran into some frustrations yesterday which brought home a very important point to me. I am at once very impatient, and a horrible procrastinator.

I'm an enigma wrapped in a mystery.

Dipped in chocolate. Yummy, dark chocolate.

My car has developed an oil leak. We know what the problem is, and Jason has had the parts to fix it for over a year. Every week or so, my "low oil" light comes on, reminding me to check my levels, which are nearly always about a quart low. Usually, this happens at a really inconvenient time, like when I'm on my way to work, and I have to stop and buy a quart or two.

That's where I found myself yesterday. I stopped at a store in town and picked up a couple of quarts, only to have my debit card denied when I tried to pay for them.

I paid with a check, and proceeded to call Jason to vent my frustration. Frustration at having to stop, again, and it making me late for work. Frustration at having to put a Bandaid on a problem he could fix permanently. Frustration at having my debit card denied.

His phone, of course, went straight to voice mail. Luckily, my parents live next door, so I could call my mom and have her walk over to my house, so I could unleash the full fury of my frustration on Jason via her phone.

As I drove to work, plotting how I could pull my car into my dad's shop and figure out how to fix the problem myself, a thought began to trickle into my head:

I'm a tad impatient.

If I need something fixed, or help from someone, I want it NOW. Not next week, and probably not even tomorrow. I expect nothing less than instant gratification from those around me.

I don't know how I got this way, honestly. As the oldest of four children in a house where there was often more month than money, I wasn't accustomed to getting my wants fulfilled instantly. I think somewhere, that might have developed in me some trust issues, which cause me to believe that if something isn't done right away, it's not going to get done.

Or maybe I'm just overthinking this a tad.

On the other hand, I am an extreme procrastinator. I've lost count of how many times I've stopped in the writing of this post and done other things, like stare intently off into space or check to make sure my fingernails are clean.

I am the Queen of Time Wasting. The Internet is both the best, and the worst thing to ever happen to me.

Too, too often I wait until the last minute to do something, and end up having to rush and stressing myself out much more than necessary.

How did I get to be this way? I have no idea. The worst part is, I'm like this with God too. There are things I've been asking Him to do for years, and some I've been praying about for just a few months (but even that seems like a lifetime) and still, no answer. There are situations in my life I need to be settled, and there are deadlines, but still...I wait.


I seem to forget that God is a God of "suddenly."

Type that word into a search on a Bible site like, and you'll find a LOT of results. There are so many instances in the Word where God does things suddenly, right on time, in just the perfect way.

One of those is in 2 Chronicles 29. It's the story of how Hezekiah repaired and restored the temple and how the people prepared themselves to serve and worship there. It ends with these words:

So the service of the LORD's temple was established. Then Hezekiah and all the people rejoiced over how God had prepared the people, for it had come about suddenly.

So maybe, that's where my dual natures come into play. Maybe, I should be in preparation mode, so that I'm ready for my "suddenly" to come about. Maybe, my procrastination is making me my own worst enemy.

I've seen so many other "suddenlys" this year. I worked at the same place for eight years, and suddenly, I'm in a completely different environment. I lived in the same house for seven years, and suddenly I'm buying another one and moving.

I'm beginning to think that's why I lost that other post, because this one is going in a totally different direction than the one I'd typed yesterday.

Lord, give me strength to prepare myself, so I'm ready for you - suddenly.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Kroger Shakedown (and BIG news!)

shakedown graphic.indd

Whew! What a crazy couple of weeks it’s been around here. This week was nice and quiet, which was exactly what I needed after dealing with two funerals last week, scheduled within two hours of each other. I’ve been grocery shopping, yes, but last week we were forced – FORCED – to eat out way more than I would have liked because of all that was going on. This week, Anna Marie was away at camp in Oklahoma for four days, so I didn’t need to get much. So I didn’t get much, and I spent the rest of my grocery budget on a new outfit at Target! That’s what I call smart shopping!

Also, I have to admit I’ve found Kroger’s deals to be a bit lackluster. I guess I’m just living to stock up at their Mega Event sales, and there hasn’t been one of those in a few weeks. Oh, well. That’s part of the beauty of stockpiling: you get to the point where you’re “cherry picking” many weeks and spending even less!

Here’s my rundown for the week:

1 lb. strawberries
3.19 lbs. bananas
1 double-roll 12 pack of Quilted Northern bath tissue ($2.99!)
1 bottle Wishbone dressing
1 package Strawberry Newtons
5 Michalina’s frozen dinners (68 cents each!)
1 package of Bic Soleil disposable razors
1 bottle KC Masterpiece BBQ sauce

Total before coupons/savings: $34.95
Total after coupons/savings: $16.88
Total savings: $18.07 (54%)

Not one of my big blow-out weeks, to be sure, but since it was just the two of us at home we just kind of snacked around for meals. Now she’s back, and it’s back to normal. Or at least, what’s normal for us!

The dinners are for Jason or me to have for lunch - I got the Lean Gourmet kind, don't fret - the strawberries have gone in my cereal each morning, and the dressing will be taken to my Life Group meeting (along with more I have in my pantry that I got for super cheap) this Sunday. And who would turn down a 99 cent package of razors? Not me!

Oh, and before I forget, BIG news: I’ll be conducting my first COUPON CLASS! Yes, if you’re local to the Mid-South area, I’ll be speaking at the Women’s Ministry meeting at my church, Cornerstone (we call it GNO, or Girls Night Out) on Tuesday, June 14 at 6:30 p.m. It’s part of a night called Thrifty Living, and we’ll also have other financial pointers like how to shop at yard sales. We’ll have coffee and dessert, and probably (hopefully) laugh our faces off.

The church is located at 5998 Elmore Road in Southaven, Miss. You can either Google it, or email me for more information!

(And if you aren’t in our area, say a little prayer for me…)

Friday, June 10, 2011

A book review! And a giveaway! Huzzah!

Well, howdy-do. I’ve been on a blogging hiatus as things have gotten a bit hectic in Melz World lately, but I come to bring you good news of great joy: I’m back, and this time with a book review (and a giveaway! Huzzah!)

A couple of months ago, I was asked to review the book First Time Dad by John Fuller. What, you say? You’re not a dad, and your kid is almost a decade old? I know, I know. There’s no denying the truth. But, I thought it might be an opportunity to help those who ARE both dads and new to this whole parenting thing to get a good head start on raising great kids.

So many parenting books focus on moms, but we really shouldn’t neglect the impact fathers have on their children. Whether they realize it or not, their influence matters a great deal to how their kids will turn out, for better or worse.

The book was an easy read. Most of the chapters are 10 pages or less, which meant I could digest it in easy segments. I abhor books with really long chapters, because I have such a short attention span that I lose interest in the chapter before it’s finished. Not a problem here!

Fuller is a father of six (!) children, some of whom have already left home. In the book, he shares what he’s learned about dealing with your child’s unique personality, being intentional about instilling your values, how to support your wife as a new mom, and, most importantly, the value of time in relation to raising your kids.

I know for us, when Anna Marie was an infant, Jason’s job at the church meant he was gone a lot. I felt many times that, since I took her to work with me during the day and he was gone to meetings or other functions at night, I shouldered a lot (maybe too much) of the responsibility of rearing her. I also think we could have done a better job of being intentional about teaching her some things. This book encourages dads to be present for their kids and wife, and to invest in their future while they’re still wee small babies.

I’d recommend this for any dad, whether a first-timer or not. And guess what – they sent me an extra copy to give away! It would make a great Father’s Day present for someone who’d just had their first child or is expecting one in the near future. Or, really any dad of small kids.

Just leave a comment here by 5 p.m. Central time on Monday, June 13, telling me a favorite memory you have of your dad or a father-figure in your life. I’ll pick a random winner and you’ll have your book in time for Father’s Day!

Good luck!

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Armadillo Tails

Yeah, you read that right. Not tales. TAILS.

As in, one of my dogs, right now, is carting around the back shell and tail of an armadillo in his mouth, and it's creeping me OUT.

It all started Tuesday, when I posted to Facebook that "any day without a dead possum in the yard is a good day." Because, yes, we've had a spate of those, thanks in part to our wonderful canine companions.

My sister responded and asked if armadillos counted, because if so, all bets were off. I didn't realize how serious she was until I got home that night, and Anna Marie and my mother told me the tale of coming home from school and seeing the dogs playing - PLAYING - with the carcass of an armadillo. EEEK!

(And yes, someone has enlightened me to the connection between those animals and leprosy. And it's not helping the creep factor, let me just tell you.)

When Jason came home, he disposed of it like he does most things they drag up - by getting a shovel and throwing it into the cow pasture next door. Because we're good neighbors like that. But apparently, the dogs are able to get back there under the fence because remnants of the beast appeared back on the front lawn that night.

Once again, we tried to dispose of it.

Later that night, after Jason and AM had gone to bed, I heard a ruckus outside and looked to see that same object on the front porch. I start screaming uncontrollably, but does anyone get up out of bed to see about me? NO.

(But that's another post for a different day, my friends.)

Our male dog, Lucky, was a rescue dog. I happen to know how he came to the shelter, because he belonged to a man I knew who had passed, whose wife had cancer and couldn't care for him or their other dog so she surrendered them. The other dog had a tumor and was put down, but we adopted Lucky. He's a great dog, but he's got this habit - when you come near him, he picks up something - anything and brings it to you.

It could be a food bowl, or a stick, or a bone he's found - but he never shows up empty-mouthed.

Tuesday night on the porch, he was headed straight for the armadillo. I knew what his little doggie mind was thinking, and scolded him to stay away.

Then, I got desperate. I couldn't stand the thought of them messing with that thing all night, so I went into the kitchen and grabbed some hot sauce - and from four feet away, I flung it towards the remains, screaming at the dogs to stay away all the while.

It worked, at least for a bit, because much later when I checked it was still in the same spot. I was NOT going to stumble around in the dark of night to find the shovel and try to dispose of it myself! I figured that Jason could do his manly duty and get it done in the morning.

By morning, though, I guess either the hot sauce had worn off, of they decided they liked the taste of it, because it was back in the yard. Again.

Again, it was disposed of, or so I thought.

Again, after another ruckus just now, I checked and Lucky was defending our property from some dogs who live around the corner. When I called him, he came running - and ran straight for the armadillo shell, which was lying in the yard. Again.


I wonder how long it takes armadillo shell to burn to a pile of ashes? Because at this point, I'm thinking cremation is the only way to go.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Kroger Shakedown! (And other things...)

shakedown graphic.indd

Well, Gentle Reader, let me just say that it's good to be back in the land of the blogging.

As Blogger is helpful to point out, my last post was April 27 - nearly a fortnight ago, during the terrible, no good, horrible storms we were having. Rest assured, neither my person nor my property is in any danger of being overtaken my the Mississippi River, but that doesn't stop me from being in awe of how much the river has swollen in the last few days.


Point of business: I started a job at my church in February, and last week we hosted all of the Assemblies of God pastors from the state of Mississippi in a four-day conference. And as a result of not being home for basically four nights until around 10 p.m., I did not go grocery shopping last week - I didn't have time, and since we weren't home, I didn't see the point. We needed that money to eat out on! But this week, I hit it HARD, and my normal $30-$40 range went all the way up slightly past $50 in response. I also went to Kroger twice, because after my original trip on Sunday we stopped by two stores to find Anna Marie a replacement nunchuck for her Wii and I couldn't get any refrigerated stuff.

Also, I had to buy two big (for me) purchases this week: paper towels, and coffee. Good grief - the original price on the Maxwell House was $14? WHO PAYS THAT FOR COFFEE? Obviously, not me!

I also stopped by Aldi a few minutes ago, to stock up on ground turkey and turkey meatballs, something I either can't get anywhere else or can't get as cheaply, even on sale.

So, here we go.

Kroger trip #1 (on Sunday)
1 8-pack of Bounty paper towels
1 box of Krusteaz pancake mix (free with a coupon Kroger sent me, but it also counted toward my Mega Event total)
2 bottles of Kraft Mayo
1 bottle of Kraft BBQ sauce (which I got for FREE, thanks to a better-than-expected coupon)
2 bags of Quaker Quakes
2 bottles of Kraft salad dressing
1 pack of gum (the only thing, out of many, that Anna Marie asked for that I granted her)
4.81 lbs of just-ripe bananas, marked down to .39 a lb.
2 boxes of Ronzoni pasta
1 canister of Maxwell House
1 box of Betty Crocker cake mix (also free with a Kroger coupon)
1 box of Nature Valley granola bars (free with a Kroger coupon)
1 box of Cocoa Krispies

Total before coupons/sales: $68.58
Total after coupons/sales: $28.59
Total savings: $39.99 (60%)

Kroger trip #2 (Tuesday)
8 cups of Dannon Greek Yogurt (the only kind that Anna Marie eats these days)
4 cans of Red Gold seasoned tomatoes
4 cans of Kroger brand Italian seasoned tomato paste (which I combine with the tomatoes to make my "homemade" spaghetti sauce)

Total before coupons/savings: $17.89
Total after coupons/savings: $10.01
Total savings: $7.88 (46%)

Aldi trip (Tuesday)
1 box of Aldi's brand of Kashi cereal
1 bag vegetable crisps
1 bag baked chips
2 lbs. frozen ground turkey
1 bag turkey meatballs

Total: $11.71

So, yeah, I spent a little more than I normally would have on groceries this week, but 1. I hadn't been in two weeks, and 2. I was out of several staples, like the paper towels, coffee, and turkey.

Now that my pantry and freezer are sufficiently stocked, we can sit back, relax, and watch the river recede.